As fall settles down upon us in the Northeast, its time to start thinking of some home projects to keep busy during the chillier months that lie ahead. Considering soon the foliage will turn, and the once green outdoors will pull up a blanket of snow for a few months of slumber – maybe bringing some of the green inside your home can help keep a little liveliness during the winter. Even better, what if you can enjoy the benefits of your project all year long? Do we have your attention?
If so, consider this: you can essentially grow tea in your home. While it will take a little time to yield the results, once you do – you will have the freshest leaves available for you to simmer and experiment with other flora to create an array of tastes and blends where the possibilities are endless. Your very own tea blend!
When growing your tea at home, you will likely want to stick with Sinensis, which requires a less tropical environment. (The assamica tea plant is larger and requires a tropical environment) You can grow your tea plant from seed or a trimming from an existing plant. Do some research also to see if there are any local nurseries around your area – you can speak to someone if you are new to gardening, and they may carry tea plants as well.
From seed, germination will take about one month. Cover the seeds in shallow soil and keep damp and warm. When starting your plants from seeds, be prepared to wait a couple years to produce enough leaves to harvest tea. If you are using a cutting from a plant, nurture it indoors for a year and depending on your climate, you may be even able to transfer it outside. Some other tips include using a slightly more acidic soil. One that has been designed for rhododendrons will make a tea plant happy. If you are growing your plant in a container, give it a small amount of fertilizer two or three times in the summer along with a good amount of sun to ensure it stays healthy.
Here are some great blends of tea you may create eventually once you can start harvesting your tea plants via Off The Grid News:
Green tea: Spread out your harvested leaves and buds and leave them in a shady spot for a few hours. Steam them on the stove top for about a minute or roast them in a hot, dry skillet for a couple of minutes for a different flavor. Dry the leaves on a baking sheet in the oven at 250 degrees for about 20 minutes. You can store the dried leaves in an airtight container, or brew right away.
Oolong tea: To make Oolong tea, let the leaves and buds wilt in the sun for a half hour to an hour. After that, leave them in the shade or inside for up to ten hours, with regular mixing. You may dry them in the oven at 250 degrees for 20 minutes. You can also treat Oolong tea in the traditional manner, which is to skip this step. Instead, roll the leaves into thin strips or small balls. They will unfurl as you brew them, but they won’t store as long as if you dry the leaves in the oven.
Black tea: After you pick the leaves and buds, roll them between your fingers and hands until they turn a darker color. Spread the leaves out on a flat surface in a cool place and leave them to dry for two to three days. Dry and store the leaves as you would for green or Oolong tea.
For white tea, use the directions as instructed for green using only the buds and not the leaves.